One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about living in Belize is how small the country is. If I so choose, I can be on the Caribbean Shores for the Sunrise, experience a cascading waterfalls at noon, zipping through the canopies by mid afternoon, and back on the island just in time to enjoy the glorious sunset.
In the past, this came with some restrictions. Most of the times, our guests would have to spend an overnight to enjoy these adventures. However, we were recently invited to experience the towering waterfalls of the Mayan Mountain – Macal River in a one day experience.
Our journey commenced around 6:30AM, when we met up at Tropic Air to be on the 7AM flight. At the airport, we were greeted by Oscar of Balaam Eco Adventure, our host for the day. I was looking forward to going on this new adventure!! After a short 13-minute flight, we landed in Belize City and were greeted with a large smile from our driver Onil; He’s quite a character. After a light breakfast, we are on our way.
We drove to Benque Viejo, where the access point to the Rio Frio Waterfalls is located. The 2 hour drive to Benque is very scenic. As you make your way along the Western (George Price) Highway, you get the chance to experience the various eco systems that exists within our environment. Beauty unfolds as the flat lands turn into valleys, and the valleys turn into mountains. Roaring rivers bordering the highway alert you that you’re almost at your destination.
Once in Benque, the journey becomes just a little bumpier – as you take the off path route. With every turn in the road, you’re climbing higher into the mountains. After about 40 minutes, you arrive at your base point. This is where you can use the restroom, and change into your fun gear – prepare to get wet!
Now remember all those turns you made going uphill? Well, it’s now time to go downhill to the river. This portion of the drive is much shorter, so as you can imagine, the descent is waaayyyy steeper. After couple instances of gasping – and uncertainty – will we make it? …We get to the river. “Phew” – sigh of relief!
Our chariot for the day was a lovely pontoon river boat, decked out with comfy wooden seats, a nice canopy to protect us from the elements, a grill – for preparing lunch; a built in chopping board and an outboard engine.
Once on board, Roberto makes his introduction, and our pontoon takes to the river, passing baby fresh-water crocodiles, gliding pass river lilies, as we admire the towering mountains that border the river pathway.
After a short ride, we come to a sandy bay. I couldn’t wait for the boat to be properly secured to get my feet wet. The water was so refreshing, luke-warm to the touch, but quickly becoming cold as we made our way into what appeared to be a stream coming out of the mountains. As we waded through the waters, the stones from the stream created a soothing pedicure effect. We can hear the waterfalls in the distance. We made our way through water, over fallen trees, up the side of the hills, and then there it is… the Holy Grail of Water Falls – the Rio Frio Waterfalls.
A fish at heart, the sound of the water cascading down the rigid rocks, sang to me, beckoning me – come take a dip!! You guessed it… I was the first one to be scampering in the nature pool. And oh, it was refreshing! There’s a surprise that happens at this water fall, and if you want to find out. you just must do it yourself! I’ll say this much, after you’re finished, it feels like you’ve just received a deep tissue massage and all your knots have been worked out.
After spending some time at the Rio Frio Waterfalls, it’s time for us to make our journey towards the second waterfall of the day – the unnamed waterfalls.
What is really outstanding about this fall, is that you can literally walk right up the waterfall. As the water cascades over the rocks, it creates a carpet of smooth sandpaper for you to walk on, concentrate on the SMOOTHE part. It does NOT hurt your feet, it’s actually pretty cool. After walking/climbing for about 130 ft, we get to our summit. You could go more, but in the interest of time and the fact that we still had one more waterfall to go, as well as the Macal River Dam – we decided to cut this one short.
On the boat, lunch is served – a scrumptious chicken bar-b-q, with tasty potatoes, and hot flour tortillas. Just what the doctor ordered. As we enjoyed our lunch, the boat slowly moved down the river to our next destination, we dazzled in the nature and freshness of the air that surrounded us.
The twin waterfalls gave us something to want to come back to. On a regular day, you’d get to climb up this one and really experience the beating of the water as you make your way to the summit! We didn’t have time, so we just got to experience its power as the boat was trusted towards it. Yup – we got wet again –and we loved it.
On our way back, we briefly passed by the Vaca Dam, a smaller of three Hydro Electric Dam systems on the Macal River.
As we made our journey back to the island, I couldn’t help but reminisce on how wonderful the day was, and the possibilities that now exists – the chances for our guests on the island, to truly experience ALL the wonders that Belize has to offer. For more information on booking your next waterfalls adventure – contact our Concierge desk.